AGH Space Systems succeeds at world’s largest international rocket engineering competition

AGH Space Systems together with its rocket named PROtotyp during Spaceport America Cup 2019

Students from the AGH Space Systems Team together with its rocket named PROtotyp took second place in 10k feet Hybrid /Liquid Rocket category and won a special Technical Excellence Award at Spaceport America Cup 2019, the largest international rocket engineering event in the world.

The main challenge to be faced by the participating student teams was to design and construct rockets capable of reaching an altitude of 10000 or 30000 feet (approx. 3 and 10 kilometres respectively) that would be safely recovered with the use of parachutes. As an additional requirement, each rocket carried 4 kilograms of payload .

The finals featured 120 teams coming from all corners of the world. The rockets entered in the competition were evaluated for their in-flight performance, safe recovery as well as technical documentation and technological solutions implemented in the rocket design. During the event, the AGH UST team took the opportunity to deliver a presentation at a conference which drew 26 selected teams introducing their most interesting research topics. Students from the AGH Space Systems team discussed innovative hybrid fuels. As a next step, the PROtotyp rocket successfully passed all checks and judging and was cleared for launch, which took place on the day of the competition. The rocket features a hybrid rocket propulsion system generating power for the whole structure, a recovery system consisting of two parachutes equipped with a release mechanism, on-board electronics responsible for controlling valves prior to launch and after - during the flight, collecting altitude, speed and orientation data, activating the recovery system when required and, last but not least, enabling communication with the rocket during all stages of the mission. Finally, there is a structure which provides protection for other subsystems and assures high durability and strength. The PROtotyp launch featured a biological experiment, whose aim was to investigate the impact of space flight conditions on honey bees in order to establish whether bees are capable of surviving complete rocket missions that come with exposure to excessive G-forces, vibrations, extreme temperatures and pressure changes.

After adding up all metrics, PROtotyp came second in its category, with the judges recognising the project’s innovative design, advanced technological solutions as well as the high quality of all subsystems which had been handmade by our students. This resulted in the team winning a special award for technical excellence. 

This year’s (third) edition of Spaceport America Cup, supported by leading aerospace companies, including SpaceX, Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic and Boeing, was held from 18 to 22 June in New Mexico, USA. Spaceport America is the largest privately-owned spaceport in the world.